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Both Natural and Hani treatments are changing the perception of grain from Guatemala.

Guatemala is known for its arabic duty, but the natural (processing) method of processing and khani is gradually expanding in this country. In fact, in 2016 the 5 winners of the Cup of Excellence were natures and hani.

We spoke with Roberto Soto, an engineer at Anacafé, Guatemala’s National Coffee Association, and several farmers to learn more about this trend.

The coffee is naturally processed and khani dries on raised beds. Photo: Amek Velasquez

Natura and Hani: The Basics

Customs processing has long been known in the world of speshelti and is respected. The pulp is completely removed from the grain before drying to avoid the risk of uncontrolled fermentation. As a result, the coffee is pure, has a constant profile, which is well emphasized grain characteristics. Until recently, this method was the norm in Guatemala: according to the Anacafé Green Paper, 98% of all coffee in the country is Arabica duty.

But for some time now the consumer commitment has been used by khani, and nature has long established itself in the industry speshelt. During dry processing, the grain is dried inside the berries. During hani, the flesh remains on the grain partially. In both cases, you can expect a sweet, fruity taste with a distinct body.

But do not forget that such methods often give a non-permanent profile. To ensure the high quality of the lot, manufacturers must monitor and control the drying conditions.

Ripe coffee berries are placed on raised beds for drying – this is how the natural processing begins. Photo by  Angie Molina

Benefits for manufacturers and roasters

The point is not that nature and khani will ever replace coffee duty. But they can diversify and reach a larger market.

Roberto says: “There are 360 ​​microclimates in Guatemala, plus different varieties, plus heights. Multiply this with new processing methods and you will get more opportunities in the market by having the same varieties presented in three different ways. ”

In addition, individual coffee may be suitable for certain processing methods. Roberto reminds that more than 85% of coffee in the country is SHB – solid grains, which are of high quality and complex profile. Such coffee is great after washing, and can surprise the taste buds after nature or khani.

However, softer grains growing in Guatemala below 1,200 meters are often underestimated. If these beans are naturally processed or khani, the coffee will have sweetness, body and a distinctive taste that will attract the attention of consumers.

In addition, while they are not easy methods, they are usually not so dependent on cost-saving infrastructure.

Given the Cup of Excellence distinction, there is no doubt that such methods are capable of providing high quality grain. And in the market they are in demand.

The coffee is dried on raised beds while the farmer checks the status of the brewed coffee. Photo by  Angie Molina

Guatemala’s climate: Does it fit Naturi and Hani?

With natural tillage and hana, the dry climate is critical. If it is too moist, it can cause inconsistency or even mold, which will hit the farmer’s pocket in the first place.

Roberto says some regions are better suited for natural and hani processing. For example, Central and Southeastern Guatemala is usually dry.

In other regions, it may be more difficult because rain is more likely to be harvested. However, if there is a greenhouse or solar dryer, chances are. For example, Alejandro Morales grows coffee in Huehuetenagno, where it is cold. This can slow down drying, so natural and hani treatment is quite risky. However, Alejandro not only successfully uses both methods, but also teaches others how to do it.

Jose Alfredo Gomez of La Bendicion Coffee Farm in Palencia, eastern Guatemala, has a similar situation. He admits that because of temperature fluctuations, he is forced to move his coffee to the shade or to the sun. Recently, he has been thinking of buying a greenhouse where he can put up the beds.

Changing processing methods always borders on risk. It is important to take into account both the climate and the available resources when considering how to process coffee. However, if the manufacturer is careful, even in Guatemala, you can do both.

Natural coffee and khani coffee is sun-dried. Photo by  Angie Molina

Processing Tips

Roberto gave some advice to Guatemalan farmers interested in natural and hani cultivation; Here are 4 main points to find in the Anacafé Handbook “A Guide to Properly Working with Half-Duty and Natural Coffee” :

  1. Determine what kind of coffee will be processed or khani and its characteristics.  If producers are aware of the quality of particular types of coffee during the washing process, it is easier for them to identify the types of coffee that will be best suited to natural processing or khani.
  2. Follow the harvesting standards.  Coffee berries should be intact with pests and diseases, ideally they should have a brix level of 18 to 24%, and any unripe or overripe cherries should not get into the lot. In the case of hani cultivation, Roberto recommends additionally leaving the berries for 24 hours before depopulation (of course, in the appropriate climate).
  3. Sort coffee by density or size . Traditionally, this is done using water, but Roberto reminds us that it can wash away some of the pulp. It depends on the intensity of the fruit descriptors of the coffee, and also, the amount of pulp can affect the drying.
  4. Drying:  For best results, dry the coffee slowly. Raised beds will provide air circulation; making drying evenly. For the same reason, the coffee should be spread in thin layers and regularly roasted (every two to three hours for the first few days).

However, even with all the conditions, natural or khani processing remains difficult. Roberto advises farmers to use any technical assistance they have. It is also best to start with small, experimental batches to reduce risk. For the first few times, he suggests focusing not on the quality of the coffee profile, but on how clean it will turn out: mastering this skill will be crucial in the long run.

The khani coffee is drying in the sun Photo:  Angie Molina

It is important for farmers to adhere to higher standards and act with caution when experimenting with new processing methods. And of course, it should not be forgotten that duty coffee will always be popular. However, nature and khani open up great prospects for those who are willing to invest their time and effort, with the right climate and infrastructure.

Author: Angie Molina.

Note: This article was sponsored by Anacafé. 

Translation: Anna Polstiankina